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Lanterns On The Lake - Gracious Tide, Take Me Home Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 9.5
Lyrics 9.5
Production 9.5
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 9.5
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 95%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.25
Musicianship 9.75
Lyrics 8.75
Production 9.5
Creativity 9.75
Lasting Value 9.5
Reviewer Tilt 10
Average: 95%

Lanterns On The Lake - Gracious Tide, Take Me Home

Reviewed by: Broden Terry (04/24/12)
Lanterns On The Lake - Gracious Tide, Take Me Home
Record Label: Bella Union
Release Date: September 19th, 2011

Although it may not be considered sensible to do so, at the beginning of every new year I tend to find enjoyment in predicting what my favorite albums of the upcoming year will be in twelve months time. It's a pleasant, albeit meaningless written exercise that encourages me to look forward to, and be positive about the year ahead from a musical standpoint. However, I'll be the first to admit that you can list countless bands and artists that have never once let you down previously, and you can name dozens of confirmed titles already scheduled within the upcoming year in order to measure your own anticipation of them - but it's never going to be accurate because from my own personal experience, my favorite albums aren't necessarily the records that I anticipate most. They're the records that come completely out of nowhere with little to no fanfare, containing tracks that utterly captivate and mesmerize before resonating with you on such a tremendous scale that you're unlikely to ever forget them. Yet arguably the finest moment is when you have that said record still on the heaviest of rotations for months afterwards and you realize that despite the gloss having long since vanished, despite the inevitable scratches and wear marks upon the exterior indicating direct effects of overuse; as dramatic as it no doubt sounds, you can no longer imagine not having that album in your life due to the enormity of the impact it's had on you.

The wonderful, elegant and magnificent debut, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, courtesy of Newcastle sextet Lanterns On The Lake was the album that impacted me most throughout the duration of the previous year. It was the album that I never once foresaw coming, and the album that I want to belatedly introduce to those reading who haven't yet stumbled across it. The band formed merely five years ago and set about writing and recording multiple self-released extended plays within tiny cramped apartments and vacant countryside houses. The ensuing results came in the form of 2008's, The Starlight EP, containing roughly recorded home demos, and the vastly improved, Misfortunes and Minor Victories twelve month later. If the former release indicated a band that hadn't yet truly discovered their own unique redeeming qualities and underlying direction, the latter certainly rectified any mistakes and gave a tantalizing, yet all too brief glimpse into what the group could potentially be capable of if given sufficient label support and funding. The latter EP in particular contained four gorgeous numbers that were each wrapped warmly in melancholic layers and revolved around the wandering and whispered enchantments of lead vocalist, Hazel Wilde. This was best exemplified when listening to the three minute duration of album closer, "You Need Better" as it gently culminates in a flurry of light drumbeats, tender hooks and lovely orchestration. "Don't waste your love / you know you need better / don't waste your love / you know, I know better."

However, whilst it's intriguing and equally important to recap the history of the band and how they arrived to the point where they're currently at, what is of even more significance is describing just how Lanterns On The Lake, Bella Union's latest label signees and acquisition managed to create what I still perceive and consider to be the most beautiful, vulnerable and extravagant audible effort of 2011. "Lungs Quicken", for instance, opens the record with an unusual series of echoing electronic glitches, gentle piano notes that waltz delicately into proceedings, atmospheric swells of electric guitar, and even the unmistakable presence of fiddles and violins intertwining in stunning unison. It's a testament to the band's musical prowess that barely twenty seconds have elapsed and already audiences are well and truly absorbed within the luscious instrumentation - waiting for that one fleeting moment where the warmth of Wilde's whimsical vocals twist around the restrained and bruised melody that has already been conjured. As her delivery belatedly dances its way into the mix, something entirely unexpected eventuates. The minor key piano notes ascend into an inviting arpeggio, strings make a welcome appearance, and the pulsating crash of a sporadic cymbal all assist in creating the most gorgeous of soundscapes, all the while Wilde is repeatedly delivering the the loneliest of motifs, "Lungs, please breathe for me. Wings, take speed for me. Heart, just beat for me." It's a six minute stirring opus, with the final sixty seconds implementing the usage of up to a dozen vocal layers all entwining and harmonizing together to wonderful effect. The one minor criticism is that the sense of overall sparseness and remoteness ingrained within the track may potentially alienate casual listeners, and as such, it's a questionable decision to have it open the album. For those that grow to adore and appreciate it, however, you wouldn't want Gracious Tide, Take Me Home to begin on any other fluctuating note.

Perhaps the most alluring aspect of Lanterns On The Lake can be found in their profound ability to seamlessly glide one moment from acoustic/folk and organ oriented tracks, the next moment they're incorporating slightly more electronica and adding more loops, effects, textures and glitches; and then just when you believe you've seen and heard everything they have to show, they drift just as competently into a dazzling sound of atmospheric, orchestral post rock in the vein of Sigur Ros. Consequently, whilst it may prove difficult to categorize the band in any one restrictive genre, it makes these eleven tracks and the hour long duration so gripping and so powerful. These tracks feel so remarkably intimate and so inviting that as a listener, you're almost led to believe that they're pouring their collective hearts out repeatedly for nobody else but you. It's as if each time you come back for a repeat listen these six individuals are excitedly dusting off the upwards of thirty unique instruments that make both small and sizable contributions alike because they're so overjoyed that they get to entertain you over the course of the next hour. When listening to Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, it genuinely feels like you're at a live setting, that you're the only one in the room, and that the band couldn't be more thrilled that you've decided to attend. That's one of the finest qualities that you can have ingrained within any release, and it's a remarkable achievement that the group have managed to successfully capture that element in what is only their debut full-length.

As has been previously mentioned, the album is full of beautiful tracks, and there are none more so than the slow-building and early album highlight, "If I've Been Unkind", which features fellow vocalist and guitarist Adam Sykes. The track unfurls gradually with gentle distortion swirling spontaneously in the background and elegantly finger-picked acoustic guitars creating the most luscious, enduring and eeriest of introductions. It doesn't take a prolonged duration of time before the deepness of Sykes' vocal delivery wanders cautiously into proceedings - his delicate words etched with heartache and loneliness as he sings the touching opening verse, "You wanted a piggyback / well I, I lost my spine / and I dreamed of awful things..." It's at this moment there's a deliberate, yet entirely unexpected quiver, fall and pause. A tender violin wails distantly in the background and suddenly Wilde and Sykes' gather the strength and courage it takes to harmonize together and to finish the sentence that was seemingly intent upon faltering, "Like company and physical interaction." Both vocalist then allow themselves to be carried in a wave of sweeping strings, to be swept away in a tide of rippling guitar riffs, and to be lost within the impenetrable darkness of the upcoming lyrics that mirror a traumatic ocean during the fiercest of storms. It's an overused word, but breathtaking doesn't even begin to describe the moment when both vocalists utter the chilling refrain, "When you, when you went missing / well I looked almost everywhere / I sailed the seas / you were never even there." The sense of drama heightens with every instrumental layer added - violins, organs and pianos collide spectacularly to create a sorrowful dynamic, and in the final seconds it all culminates in a mournful crescendo that has to be heard and not described to be believed.

Before long it becomes noticeably apparent that there's an undeniable and deliberate recurring theme of ships at sea revolving throughout the duration of Gracious Tide, Take Me Home. Another such example comes in the form of the two minute heartbreaking number, "Ships In The Rain". Inspired by a young fisherman who had drowned at sea close to where the band resides, it's a touching and equally heartfelt track that's predominantly acoustic and features lovely vocal harmonies. The band is said to have recorded all of the vocals on a small amplifier that regularly hissed and cracked at irregular intervals, and it only serves to heighten the already haunting atmosphere that radiates throughout the recording.

"My body's an anchor
I'm lost to the sea
I look to the stars as the waves cover me
It's a beautiful night to behold
The most beautiful I've ever known
Ships in the rain, I'll see you again

The whistles are blowing
They're looking for me
Like an orchestra playing as I sink to the deep
But this cold black ocean will know
That this sailor will never come home
Ships in the rain, I'll see you again"

- "Ships In The Rain"

"A Kingdom" is undoubtedly the heartbeat of the album. It's joyful, it's carefree, it's melodic and it's absolutely marvelous with its galloping rhythms and momentous strings; but the following track, the six minute cascading ballad, "The Places We Call Home" is arguably even better for it features spellbinding and succulent melodies that utterly captivate listeners from the very outset. The track unfurls gradually; within the first of its six minute duration there are prominent glockenspiel flourishes and twinkling piano melodies that succeed in capturing the most relaxing and gorgeous of atmospheres. Mere moments before the cascading vocals of Wilde enter into proceedings, a light vapory mist of reverb hovers into the production, yet the songstress floats above it with such effortless ease and elegance to sing the most reflective and memorable chorus on offer throughout the debut, "Oh, when the nights were warm and the fields rolled on / When the days were long / when we were young." Thereafter the track spirals in many different, mesmerizing directions. Swells of percussion propel the track forward, drumbeats build heavily into a bludgeoning roar, strings wane tremendously, and what sounds like a glorious symphony of violins perform urgently in unison. The final two minutes are littered with electronic glitches and a touching piano solo that closes the track just as enticingly as it all began.

I've not got a major negative that's likely to shadow Gracious Tide, Take Me Home. It could be said that a few of the tracks are perhaps a little on the lengthier side, but it's the tiniest and most minor of complaints. In fact, I'd even argue that the cinematic tendencies of the band, the way they've structure these eleven songs to build slowly and eventually soar with all the grace, beauty and conviction imaginable is to be commended. If I really tried to force myself to locate a negative, "Lungs Quicken" is perhaps not the most accessible of tracks that could've potentially opened the album, but yet to counter my own argument, it conjures the mood and overall tone of the record startlingly well. Album closer, "Not Going Back To The Harbour" is arguably the weakest cut on the album for it's a mere minute long track that was left unrecorded and thrown onto the album at the last minute, but yet it really captures an element of rawness and spontaneity that's greatly welcome. Put simply, I could talk positively about this album in the most glowing and illuminative of shining lights. If I wasn't terrified of alienating readers, I would likely continue on where I could mention the gorgeous chorus of "Keep On Trying", I could describe the ambiance etched into "I Love You, Sleepyhead", and I could attempt to explain the eternalness of "Tricks" - but instead I'll stop. I will implore you to purchase this record because it's beauty at it's very, very finest. When you hear this album for yourself, you won't need upwards of two thousands words to tell you that.

Recommended If You LikeSigur Ros, Mum, Low

Additional Information1. Lungs Quicken
2. If I've Been Unkind
3. Keep On Trying
4. Ships In The Rain
5. A Kingdom
6. The Places We Call Home
7. Blanket Of Leaves
8. Tricks
9. You're Almost There
10. I Love You, Sleepyhead
11. Not Going Back To The Harbour
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Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
05:54 AM on 04/24/12
#2
Broden Terry
I'm glad I built myself an igloo
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I completely gushed, but I'm okay with that. As a reviewer, it's so rare that you needn't highlight any flaws because the record in question just doesn't have any glaring negatives in which to focus on and discuss. The best album of 2011.

"If I've Been Unkind"
"The Places We Call Home"
"You're Almost There"
"I Love You, Sleepyhead"
04:45 PM on 04/24/12
#3
gman610
Second Best
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Well, this is a fantastic review. I'm going to have to check this out.
05:28 PM on 04/24/12
#4
jbwillisfan
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Every single one of your reviews is quality reading. I checked this out way back when your aoty list was published and liked it greatly. you're pitchfork bound
08:46 PM on 04/24/12
#5
Quijiba
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your reviews are very long, but they are so well written that I cannot complain in all honesty. This is a fantastic album and you said everything that needed to be said about it
09:06 PM on 04/24/12
#6
Broden Terry
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your reviews are very long, but they are so well written that I cannot complain in all honesty. This is a fantastic album and you said everything that needed to be said about it

Thank you!

I guess that's what I'm known for on the website. When you click on a review that I've written, chances are you're going to find yourself reading something really quite lengthy and (hopefully!) detailed. The way I see it is that these bands and artists take years to create these albums - they at least deserve some thought, time and effort being put in to describe the finished product. Also, I'm so thrilled you enjoy the album. It's marvelous.
07:59 PM on 04/26/12
#7
XLT917
We're never dead unless we give up.
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Goodness I love this album and I love this review!
08:12 PM on 04/28/12
#8
mortal soldier
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Listened to this album because of your review. Blown away. Thank you for drawing attention to this gem.
04:54 PM on 04/29/12
#9
Quijiba
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Thank you!

I guess that's what I'm known for on the website. When you click on a review that I've written, chances are you're going to find yourself reading something really quite lengthy and (hopefully!) detailed. The way I see it is that these bands and artists take years to create these albums - they at least deserve some thought, time and effort being put in to describe the finished product. Also, I'm so thrilled you enjoy the album. It's marvelous.
Could not agree more. Once again you just said it all haha
11:19 PM on 05/04/12
cshadows2887
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Nice review for a fantastic record that I'm really glad you turned me on to.
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